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The Massachusetts shotgun deer hunting season will get underway in just a couple weeks. Thousands of hunters have waited for a year for this day in hopes of bagging a deer which will provide families with dozens of meals.

The two-week season will get underway on Dec. 1 and hunters are allowed the use of shotguns but no rifles. These have been banned for decades. Only bucks may be harvested unless you have an antlerless deer permit that allows you to take any deer (including bucks with antlers that are less than 3 inches long). If you do not have one of these permits, you may only shoot bucks with antlers of at least 3 inches or longer.

Massachusetts is home to nearly 100,000 deer. Of these, it is anticipated about 6,600 deer will fall to hunters’ firearms during the two-week season.

Nashoba Valley is home to a decent deer herd. Most towns here have about 20 deer per square mile while other areas such as Concord/Carlisle have over 40 deer per square mile. The heaviest concentration of deer is located on Nantucket Island, where the numbers sit at 50 plus per square mile.

Hunters seeking out a spot should start now. Public land is common in this state so you need to just find the right place for you. However, private land is another story. You should as a courtesy ask permission of the landowner before you go on their property. The landowner might have a deer problem and has been hoping for a responsible person to take a deer or two off the property.

Shotguns can carry a maximum of five shells, not a “banana clip” of 20 rounds like you see in the movies. The bullet (or “slug”) in the shell has an accuracy out to 100 yards but a 3-inch shell will hit the mark at 150 yards. However, most shots in this state take place well within 100 yards.

Once the deer is down (and field-dressed) it is then tagged and taken to a state-certified check station where the animal is weighed and checked for age and overall condition. Then a tag is placed on the leg and a second deer tag is issued to the hunter. All hunters are allowed two deer in Massachusetts more with antlerless deer permits.

If the weather holds this could be a very good season.

* The New Hampshire Youth Hunting Deer weekend was a big success with the take of 331 deer killed. Youths from 10 to 15 who were accompanied by a licensed adult were allowed to hunt. Only one gun was allowed and only the youth was allowed to fire the gun.

* If you still have your boat in the water and have what it takes, you can still go off our coast and catch some big tuna. Head east off Chatham for about 50 miles and you will hit the Gulf Stream. Here there are tuna hitting the 300-pound mark.

* Recreational anglers or providers of recreational fishing activities with experience in ground fishing or ground fishing-related activities are needed for an upcoming fishing survey. On behalf of the National Marine Fisheries Service, Macro International Inc. (a private survey research firm) is seeking participants for an upcoming paid study to examine fishing choices made by recreational anglers.

The study will take place in early December 2008 in Boston, Mass., or Nashua/Bedford, N.H. Participants will take part in a 90-minute discussion with seven to nine other anglers, led by a moderator. Those who qualify and participate will be provided with refreshments and $100 on the evening of the discussion.

If you or others you know are interested in participating, please contact Chris Doyle at Macro to see if you qualify for this important study and for additional details. Doyle may be reached at 802-264-3727.

Bill Biswanger has been writing about the outdoors for over 30 years. If there is something you would like to comment on, feel free to e-mail him at bboutdoor1@aol.com.